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Posted on Tue, Sep 8, 2009 : 3:01 p.m.

Ann Arbor teacher experiences first day of school from different perspective

By David Jesse


Ryan Bruder had a couple butterflies in his stomach this morning when he walked into Ann Arbor's Allen Elementary School.

But they didn’t last long for the first-year teacher.

“I’m excited,” said Bruder, who graduated from the University of Michigan in the spring. “I’ve always loved the first day of school.”

Bruder, son of Bach Elementary School Principal Shelly Bruder, got to experience that first day of school from a different perspective today.

Around 8:30 this morning, Bruder was puttering around his classroom waiting for students to arrive.

Piles of notebooks were neatly stacked at each student’s place. Name tags were lined up on a table next to a scavenger hunt sheet that students would soon be using to get to know their classroom.

The entire room was decorated with fish - paper ones hanging from the ceiling and live ones swimming in a tank in the corner.


Even the various mottos scattered around the classroom - “Mr. Bruder’s class is oceans of fun" - were beach themed.

“I’ve been living here” for the last couple of weeks, Bruder said. He said his mom came over from Bach to help him put the finishing touches on it.

As the bell rang to signal the start of school, Bruder moved toward the door. He shook hands with each of the 22 students and lots of parents.

As the students worked on their scavenger hunt - discovering things like where the pencil sharpener is - Bruder wandered about, asking and answering questions.

He joked with students, telling one who asked for the answer to a question on the scavenger hunt, “Sure. Let’s start the year off right. I’ll give you all the answers all year long.” That drew a laugh from the student.

Bruder said he was excited to spend the day with the students.

“I can’t wait to get to know them and to help them learn.”

David Jesse covers K-12 education for He can be reached at or at 734-623-2534.



Sat, Sep 12, 2009 : 9:14 p.m.

Ann Arbor Public Schools have been known to have problems within their hiring department. They need to be audited so every teacher has a fair chance to land a job, whether they be experienced, just fresh out of college, out of state...not because their mom is a principal. Nepotism is clearly alive and well. You know what else is also alive? The district's goals to have a racially diverse group of teachers, clearly black and white.


Fri, Sep 11, 2009 : 7:46 p.m.

It's not just the offspring of teachers being shown favoritism, but often the children of administrators and others connected to AAPS. Since this district operates in this dubious manner, it likely wouldn't be too much of a shocker to find past and present board member's family and friends getting a little extra "consideration" too. Are the best teachers being selected by this method?


Fri, Sep 11, 2009 : 6:48 p.m.

To clarify a suggestion that Mr. Bruder's qualifications are being questioned, that is not the case... I'm sure that he completed his requirements with impeccable accuracy. My dismay revolves around the fact the I, too am a highly qualified teacher and have worked to improve myself by optaining a master's degree in order to enhance my marketability and maintain my teaching credentials in the state of Michigan, and I seem to be overlooked year after year. I would love to be called for an interview and be given the opportunity to share my experience portfolios and discuss my classroom management and goals for professional development, but that opportunity evades me as more offspring of Ann Arbor's teachers are given the interviews for the positions for which we are each highly qualified. I am asking for an equal chance for employment rather than pigeon-holed to substitute teaching permanently. It doesn't help the frustration that while teaching jobs are at a premium the state and federal governments are promising to put money into education, often times that is where money is cut when deficits are overwhelming. I need to add that I sub 165 to 170 days per school year and I am requested by teachers regularly,... something is really wrong with the system! Nepotism or not, the system and the series of coincidences is disappointing.

Eric P

Fri, Sep 11, 2009 : 4:39 p.m.

Please dont let personal disappointment cast aspersions on the competence and integrity of this one young man. Mr. Bruder surely cant be held responsible. GWR said "In the near future, many of us who have loved this profession for many years, will retire making way for those of you who have been disappointed. I hope you can maintain your enthusiasm and carry the torch into the future." Sorry I have to call a flag on that comment. This sound more like the Baby Boomer (who are the generation of teachers who keep saying they are going to retire, but never seem to) line that has been hanging over Gen X for over a decade, while they hand over their jobs to Gen Y (who are largely their children). this whole discussion just highlight a truth that as a society that we need to disclose to kids, that it is not enough to work hard, strive for your goals, but YOU HAVE TO HAVE CONNECTIONS to get where you want to be.


Fri, Sep 11, 2009 : 3:04 p.m.

I also think it is interesting that he has a degree from UofM not Michigan State (who by the way has the number one teaching program in the nation, or at least if they've dropped they are still on the top 10, as well as Eastern and Central Michigan, and UofM is not even close to the top 10) and students who graduate from Michigan State are having issues getting a job? Interesting...very interesting...


Fri, Sep 11, 2009 : 1:33 p.m.

Not ever getting the opportunity to be interviewed for a position because it went automatically to someone with a little "inside help" is part of the frustration here. A folder full of glowing letters of recommendation, repeated calls to return to classrooms to sub by teachers that know you've really got what it takes to teach seems not to matter at all. How many new or recent hires are related to AAPS employees? Now that would be an interesting statistic!


Fri, Sep 11, 2009 : 11:44 a.m.

Most of the comments are blaming the system, not Ryan Bruder. I am sure he is qualified for the position, but his "just in the right place and the right time" might have been due to connections. If I were investigating I would want to know how many long-term subs made it to the magic 150 day mark last year? How many 150+ subs did Ann Arbor hire this year? Was the long-term sub situation a random event or was it something that the principal knew would be long-term? Did Bruder replace the original sub or was he in the position from day 1? And, finally how many new hires are related to AAPS employees? Two final points: Institutions need to be careful about the way they hire temporary employees. It is real easy to hire a neighbor, friend of a friend, etc. as a temporary employee and then later when the full-time regular search is on, there is a tendency to hire the temp. That is not an open job search. Second point is that there are lots of people that look good on paper but are not quite so good on the job. I was a top student, high GPA, etc. and yet I have no problem hiring the person with a spotty academic record who finally has grown up and is serious about work, acquiring new credentials, etc. Sometimes these people are really better at the job than the person with a high GPA and multiple degrees. Some of the folks who never get hired by the AAPS and have 3 degrees might never get hired, even if some of this favoritism disappeared.


Fri, Sep 11, 2009 : 6:25 a.m.

Please dont let personal disappointment cast aspersions on the competence and integrity of this one young man. Mr. Bruder surely cant be held responsible. Teaching, in the best of circumstances is a challenging and draining profession. The fact that Mr. Bruder chose it after living with a parent who was a member of the profession is amazing. He has witnessed first hand the hours and dedication involved and the sacrifices a family makes. Moreover, as a teaching parent, I know he spent many hours of his childhood in another school after leaving his own school. This tells me he brings valuable experience and speaks well of his own character and dedication. As one post points out, all of us are certified and highly qualified. This sequence of comments has certainly highlighted for this beginning teacher that the real challenge in this town will not come from his fourth graders. In the near future, many of us who have loved this profession for many years, will retire making way for those of you who have been disappointed. I hope you can maintain your enthusiasm and carry the torch into the future. I also hope that when that happens, people will find other things to pick at beside how you got a chance to do the job you love!


Thu, Sep 10, 2009 : 7:24 p.m.

On behalf of all the substitute teachers in the state of Michigan who are highly qualified, certified teachers in search of classrooms of their own, I am devastated and irate to see the rate of nepotism the runs rampant in the Ann Arbor Public School District. People should be hired based on their qualifications, and not solely on who their parents are. Ann Arbor is not the only city to suffer from this injustice, and I don't mean to insinuate that the none of these candidates aren't capable. Michigan's teacher preparation is among the more stringent in the United State, but after six years of substitute teaching and being called for an interview in the districts where I've been employed as a sub zero times there has to be something underhanded taking place. I know that I'm a highly-qualified, well-educated teacher. I graduated with honors with my undergraduate degree in education, and I have a master's degree in reading and literacy from an accredited university. Oakland County's teaching job consortium recently ran an advertisement for substitute teachers that guaranteed any highly-qualified candidate who works 50 days, would be interviewed for a teaching job. It would be nice if respect were shown to those of us who live and work in the Ann Arbor district. I know almost all of the school secretaries on a first name basis, and several are saddened that as hard as I have tried to find a full time job it hasn't happened for me. It might be because I'm not related to anyone already employed in the district! It's certainly not because I'm lacking education...


Thu, Sep 10, 2009 : 9:23 a.m.

That was my first thought, too. Then, I read the sentence about his mother and said, "Of course!"


Thu, Sep 10, 2009 : 9:04 a.m.

I too have experienced neptotism in A2 Public Schools. I was a teacher assistant in 1987 with a teaching degree. Our school had an opening for a new Kindergarten teacher. I was interviewed for the postion along with another certified teacher that was working as substitute in the school. Low and behold the postion was given to the wife of the new superintendent who had never set foot in an Ann Arbor Public School! Another position I was qualified for was given to a person who flunked their first student teaching assignment because he was unable to teach first grade! I too left for Texas and taught there for 6 years! As I started reading this article about Ryan the first thing that popped into my head was "Who did he know?" before I even got to the sentence about his Mom!

Ryan Munson

Wed, Sep 9, 2009 : 10:20 p.m.

I stopped short of my path in elementary education with four classes left and student teaching. I did so because I didn't want to compete against the 400-600 applicants for one position locally. Doesn't make sense! I am happily employed in the IT field and continue to work with kids in the area outside of a professional career in elementary education. I am, however, going to go back and get a degree some day when things look a little bit nicer. I wasn't one of those who wanted to go off to Alaska.


Wed, Sep 9, 2009 : 5:39 p.m.

at our school, an experienced sub was getting dangerously close to the 150 mark so they removed her and lo and behold another teacher's daughter replaced her! amazing.


Wed, Sep 9, 2009 : 2:32 p.m.

How are long-term sub positions filled? Is it dumb luck that I get called in as a sub for a teacher who ends up being out for 150+ days or is there discretion in replacing the original sub with the principal's choice for a long-term sub. I can imagine that there are plenty of good subs in the district and some not so good subs. As a principal, I would probably want to have some control in filling a long-term sub position. How many sub assignments did Bruder have before he got his long-term sub position?


Wed, Sep 9, 2009 : 11:36 a.m.

Nepotism is not only alive and well in Ann Arbor schools, it rules in the hiring of teachers. My wife has been a hardworking substitute in A2 schools for five years. She has three degrees, including a master's degree she earned recently, hoping it would help land an opening. She has NEVER even been called in for an interview after applying for so many openings that I'm sure she's lost count. She is state licensed, highly qualified is many areas, including elementary teaching. The Ann Arbor District hiring system in unfair and unethical. Are these principals, administrators and "others" connected to the district ever going to be exposed for what they are doing?


Wed, Sep 9, 2009 : 10:17 a.m.

Other certified teachers can't even get the long-term sub positions!


Wed, Sep 9, 2009 : 9:48 a.m.

From what I understand Ryan Bruder student taught at another elementary within the district and ended up long-term subbing for the same class. According to Michigan law if he has 150 days teaching he is next in line for a job? He was in the right place at the right time. Good for him.


Wed, Sep 9, 2009 : 9:03 a.m.

So, Ann, follow the lead on these comments and investigate the hiring process for these teachers! Either there is something to the claims that it is unfair, or, you can substantiate that the process is sound and we're lucky to have high quality new teachers.


Wed, Sep 9, 2009 : 6:54 a.m.

Wow, how nice for Ryan that he got a job right out of college. But how frustrating it is for people like my husband and me to read this. My husband received his teaching degree nine years ago and still can't find a permanent teaching job. He got excellent grades in school, has some nice recommendations, and is an all around great guy. I guess we just don't have the right connections.


Tue, Sep 8, 2009 : 8:44 p.m.

Like a good teacher should,"their", not there


Tue, Sep 8, 2009 : 8:40 p.m.

I applaud anyone who puts there blood, sweat and tears into a teaching job. There is no denying that there is no substitute for experience in handling classroom management issues. Simply saying that it is economically prudent to hire younger teachers is short-sighted. I left A2 in 1980 (laid off) and plied my trade in Texas for 28 years before retiring. I was amazed at how many wonderful, creative teachers from Michigan I ran into down here during my career. Texas appreciates it for sure!

Jon Saalberg

Tue, Sep 8, 2009 : 5 p.m.

It would behoove the critics to actually provide at least scant evidence that these newly-minted teachers weren't fairly hired. One of the writers may know a person who would seem to be a good candidate, and it seems that person didn't make it through the hiring process. That happens sometimes, even to those who would appear to be good candidates.


Tue, Sep 8, 2009 : 4:39 p.m.

The comment about the financial prudence in hiring Bruder is a bit of a stretch. Do we think that there weren't hundreds of other recent graduates (e.g., cheap) applying to the Ann Arbor schools. He will catch on more quickly than average as he has a ready-made mentor he can consult (his mom). But, it would be a nicer scenario had he applied in a nearby school district where nepotism would not be an issue. Who knows? Maybe he did and was bumped by their teachers' kids.


Tue, Sep 8, 2009 : 3:50 p.m.

Particularly in this economically uncertain time, schools tend to hire teachers without experience and without advanced degrees. Experienced teachers with advanced degrees command a higher salary. So the district was being financially prudent. Also, having watched Ryan grow up in the community of Dexter, I suspect Ann Arbor made a very good decision in hiring him. Thirdly it is not common to find male teachers at the elementary level. Male teachers often provide an important function in showing students the nurturant side of the male personality. Just hope he doesn't go over to the dark side and become an administrator.


Tue, Sep 8, 2009 : 2:40 p.m.

Interesting. I noticed that his Mom is a principal. And another article talked about principal Mary Anne Jaeger's daughter Melissa getting a position in the A2 schools. Nepotism is alive and well in the Ann Arbor Public Schools. I'd love to see some of the experienced teachers out there get jobs, but I guess their Mom's don't work for the schools. I personally know someone who is an Ann Arbor native who has an undergrad degree from EMU and TWO master's degrees from UM, one in education, who can't get a teaching position. What is wrong with this picture?